Top things to do in Charleston SC, USA inner banner

Top things to do in Charleston SC, USA

Charleston, South Carolina is one of the USA's most beautiful and historic cities — and one that holds its fair share of secrets. Adam Ford enlisted a local to provide the inside word on top things to see and do...
Top things to do in Charleston SC
Top things to do in Charleston SC. Image courtesy of The City of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina is known for its fragrant magnolia trees, magnificent antebellum architecture and gracious manners.

While the mere flick of a lady’s fan could at one time speak volumes, this is a town that has never given up its secrets easily. It’s an enclave of old money and even older family trees. You can live here for 40 years or more and you’ll still be considered ‘from off’.

With that in mind, and with just one free day to explore, I asked local tour guide Myron Pstrak to share his suggestions for interesting things to do around town. It was hot and humid as we set off on a horse and carriage tour of the city, but as Myron told me — even in the middle of a blistering Southern summer, Charlestonians don’t sweat. They glisten.

Here’s an insider’s guide to the top things to do in Charleston SC.

Top things to do in Charleston SC
Top things to do in Charleston SC. Image courtesy of The City of Charleston

What’s the best time of the year to visit Charleston?

Spring is glorious. The gardens are of course superb at that time of year. There are house and garden tours daily throughout the city. It’s a unique opportunity to look inside some of these magnificently restored masterpieces. You’ll gain a real insight into what it means to be a Charlestonian.

Top things to do in Charleston SC
Top things to do in Charleston SC. Image courtesy of The City of Charleston

What’s the most interesting part of Charleston?

The warren of narrow streets and hidden squares inside the original city walls is really intriguing. The area has a very European feel with wonderfully restored antebellum homes (those built pre-Civil War) and unexpected gardens behind high stone walls and wrought irons gates.

Top things to do in Charleston SC
Top things to do in Charleston SC: Admire the city’s historic antebellum homes. Image: Bigstock

Charleston is an amazingly intact historic city. It was a place of great wealth leading up to the Civil War, but the abject poverty that followed saw us simply get by as best we could. In the early 1920s fortunes began to change and we realised what an amazing gem we had. That’s when the earliest city preservation efforts began. You can see the results all around you today.

Make time to take a stroll through Magnolia Cemetery during your stay in the city. It’s breathtaking. You’ll encounter Charleston’s finest — from Confederate generals to artists and poets. The cemetery opened in 1850 and is full of history.

What’s your favourite place to eat in Charleston?

I’m a huge fan of Chef Marc Collins and his staff at Circa 1886. We eat there often because it offers a combination of exceptional lowcountry-inspired dishes that are reasonably priced for a fine dining experience. The setting in the original carriage house of Wentworth Mansion is lovely and understated.

Top things to do in Charleston SC
Top things to do in Charleston SC. Image courtesy of Circa 1886

Do you have a favourite bar in Charleston?

Yes! McCrady’s Tavern on Unity Alley is fabulous. They serve innovative cocktails in a wonderfully historic setting. Edward McCrady opened a tavern here back in 1778. It’s still a testament to true southern hospitality.

Top things to do in Charleston SC
Top things to do in Charleston SC. Image courtesy of McCrady’s Tavern

What’s something visitors should know about Charlestonians?

We are ridiculously polite and genuinely helpful, but please don’t ignore our southern conventions. Be polite in return and ALWAYS dress for dinner. We look askance at folks who presume shorts, t-shirts and flip flops are appropriate for dining out. Horrors! Gentlemen, take a stroll down King Street and pick up a Seersucker jacket — the epitome of Charlestonian male style.

Do you have any tips for top things to do in Charleston SC? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.


Need a place to stay?

The Big Bus now offers readers access to wholesale hotel rates. Simply email us the details of the hotel you want to book, your travel dates and the lowest rate you have found. We'll try and give you a better deal!

If you book a hotel with us in any of Australia's capital cities, you'll also receive 10% off our amazing range of tours and experiences. Some conditions apply†.

Your name (first and surname):
Your mobile contact number:
Where are you travelling to?
Number of adults travelling:
Number of children travelling:
Hotel name
Your preferred room type:
Check-in date:
Check-out date:
Number of rooms required:
The best price you have found:
The website where you found this price:
Is there anything else we need to know about your stay?
0 /
I also need:

Your details will not be shared with any third party. 

Please submit a separate form for each hotel you want to price beat.

†Applies to tours and experiences available on The Big Bus tour and travel guide website and does not apply to tours offered via affiliate websites, including Viator.

FormCraft - WordPress form builder



Please leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Your Cart
Your Cart Is Empty